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London zero emission zones

Explore the transport strategy introduced in London to meet the commitment that the city becomes zero-carbon by 2050.
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

As part of London’s commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollution, the Mayor of London has committed to the city becoming a zero carbon emission city by 2050.

London plans to be a zero carbon city by 2050. See1,Do1,Teach1, New Cavendish Street, London, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Mayor’s transport roadmap

The Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) has set out to achieve a zero emission transport target and accelerate the uptake of zero emission technologies. This means the city’s infrastructure and assets must be equipped to accommodate this change. The following aims are to be attained by 2050:

  • 80% of all trips in London to be made on foot, by cycle, or using public transport by 2041
  • remaining vehicles on local roads to be zero emission by 2050
  • all licensed taxis and private hire vehicles to be zero emission capable by 2033
  • a zero emission bus fleet by 2037.

Healthy streets

These aims are supported by policy measures such as Healthy Streets to improve air quality and reduce congestion. The intention is to make London’s diverse communities greener, healthier and more attractive places to live, work, play and do business. The Healthy Streets approach plays a central role in providing a framework for projects that prioritise walking, cycling, and public transport.

Case studies

Two case studies demonstrating how these shifts are realised can be observed by the Ultra Low Emission Streets in Shoreditch and the Healthy School Streets initiative in Camden.

Ultra Low Emission Streets, Shoreditch

The ultra low emissions streets project prioritises low pollution transport, reducing the harmful effects of pollution during commuting hours, making it easier and safer to walk and cycle and improving the character of the area for residents and businesses.

Healthy School Streets, Camden.

Camden council want its streets to have more safe space for:

  • everyone to walk and cycle
  • children to get to and from school safely and healthily
  • businesses to be able to flourish
  • reducing carbon emissions from vehicles for everyone to breathe cleaner air.

Zero emission zones

A further aim is the reduction of harmful air pollution through the commitment to London becoming a zero carbon city by 2050. The Mayor will combine the transition to zero emission vehicles with an overall reduction in the amount of miles travelled in London. This will occur in conjunction with a move to zero emission zones. A central London zero emission zone is due for delivery by 2025, followed by measures to implement larger zero emission zones in inner London by 2040, and London-wide by 2050.

These measures will be supported by interventions designed to prioritise a shift from private vehicle transport and to tackle specific air pollution hotspots.

Your task

Reflect upon the logistical considerations involved in adapting private and public infrastructure toward carbon neutrality. What development projects and/or incentives would you put in place to help your local area achieve zero emissions?

Do you think the Mayor’s Transport Strategy is achievable? Why or why not? What infrastructural improvements and/or policies could achieve this change? Share your answers with your peers in the comments below.

Further resource

If you would like to explore some of the concepts we have covered in more detail, the following resource is optional.

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone just got bigger

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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